Every good SEO strategy starts with an in-depth onsite audit. I often speak to marketing professionals who have created near-perfect SEO strategies that have tanked due to the lack of an initial audit. There’s no better way to familiarise yourself with a website, a company and what they do than pulling apart each page and assessing its SEO value. I find that starting with a domain overview helps, and I then start digging into the site, page by page.
A domain overview should contain any key stats that affect the site as a whole, rather than page specific issues. Some top tools to use when conducting a site audit include SEMRush, Moz Pro, Google PageSpeed, Google Trends and SEO Quake.
Important metrics you need to note down as part of the domain overview include:
- HTTP:// or HTTPS://
- Daily volume of organic and paid traffic
- Referring domains
- Domain Authority
- Top organic keywords
- Main organic competitors
- Structured Data
- 404 Pages
These points can be as brief or as detailed as you see fit. I always like to do a decent analysis of these metrics as once this research is done you can base the rest of your audit around your findings. As a minimum, you need to be able to “answer” each of the above points, but the more analysis you do the easier your job is later on in the audit.
SEO Page Breakdown
Once I’ve gathered information about the domain as a whole, I start doing an in-depth analysis on the sites main pages. I start with the homepage and work through any main landing pages, then the blog page and the contact page. Page breakdowns need to be in-depth, as well as stating what the metrics are I like to make bullet points of next steps, quick fixes and general notes about the site’s health. I then colour code my bullet points, showing a hierarchy of urgent fixes and possible quick wins.
Details I explore in my page breakdowns include:
- Google Trends graph of possible keywords
- Page authority
- Linking Root Domains
- Inbound Links
- Page Speed
- ALT Tags
- Title Tags
- Meta Descriptions
- On-page H tag structure
- Keyword rankings (for targeted keyword on each page)
After doing a Domain Overview and breaking down pages using the headings above, you start to get a real idea of where the problems lie on the site. Sometimes fixes can be as easy as re-writing the landing pages, adding an extra image with an ALT tag or just relooking the heading structure. Sometimes the issue isn’t on a page, and you’re better off working on your domain authority by acquiring high-quality backlinks – although you wouldn’t be able to assess this without doing an in-depth analysis of every page, as well as the overview.
The final part of the process is to conduct a competitor analysis. I start by choosing the websites top 3 competitors and make a graph containing current keyword rankings for all 4 sites for your main keywords. This way you start to build up a picture of each of your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as your own.
I would then conduct a breakdown of their sites, making notes on the following subjects:
- Local SEO – What City are your competitors targeting?
- On-page structure – Check what page layouts your competitors are using – If they rank higher than you for your chosen keyword consider reformatting your page.
- Domain & Page Authority – If they rank above you but you think your pages are better optimised, is their domain/page authority noticeably higher than yours?
- Structured Data – Using Googles Structured Data testing tool you can check what structured data competitors are using, and then think about implementing on your site if you haven’t already.
- Page Speed – Checking competitors site speed can be a helpful indication of how well coded their site is and can bring up simple errors that you can check your site for.
- Title tags & Meta data – Check what meta data they’re using and how they’re using it.
Once you’ve done your competitor analysis you’ve got all the information you need to go on to make an awesome SEO strategy. You know your priorities, you’re aware of all site issues and which order to tackle them and you’re aware of quick wins that can give you significant ranking boosts with little effort. If any new ideas come to light, you know where your competitors are at and can check the success of implementing these ideas using the data you’ve collected. By now you should know the site from top to bottom, meaning any strategy ideas have been well thought out and should be quick and easy to implement.
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